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Eric Levine, an attorney from Brookline, Mass. whose license was suspended in 2003, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for running a mortgage fraud ring. The Jan. 20 order by Judge George A. O’Toole of the District of Massachusetts also sentenced the 58-year-old Levine to two years of supervised release and required him to forfeit $1.9 million. Eleven defendants were indicted in the case in 2008 on various charges, including two lawyers. The other lawyer, J. Daniel Lindley, was sentenced to 72 months in prison in November. His law license was suspended in June 2010. Levine and four other defendants were convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud counts by a federal jury in June 2010. Levine and Lindley were also convicted of money laundering. Before the trial, five defendants pleaded guilty. One defendant is still awaiting trial. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, the ring participated in 21 fraudulent property transactions and fraudulently collected more than $10.6 million from 10 mortgage lenders. The complex scheme, which ran from May 2005 to June 2006, involved “straw” buyers, overstated purchase prices and documents with false information. The ring made more than $1.9 million, and pocketed more than $1.7 million, by submitting loan paperwork to lenders that contained higher purchase prices than the sale amount, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The sentences in the case reflect the seriousness of the crimes, stated Carmen Ortiz, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, in a press release. “Sham transactions like these drive up prices for legitimate homeowners,” Ortiz stated. “These economic crimes have a profound and direct impact on the lives of innocent homeowners.” “While no longer mandatory, the federal sentencing guidelines are alive and well and very unforgiving,” said Michelle Peirce, a litigation partner at Boston’s Donoghue Barrett & Singal, who is one of Levine’s lawyers on the case. Kenneth Levine, a Brookline solo practitioner who is also represents the defendant, said that the length of the sentence is “excessive and doesn’t in any way reflect the nature of the alleged crime.” Kenneth Levine acknowledged that he’s related to the defendant but wouldn’t say how. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the federal government, refuse to actually hold responsible the mortgage companies that allowed this culture and approved these loans,” Levine said. “The U.S. attorney apparently thinks that it’s easier to go after people that allegedly falsified loan material and allows all of the banks and lending companies to do what they’ve done, [which] required there to be a national bailout.” Sheri Qualters can be contacted at [email protected].

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